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Christmas gift ideas 2014: 13 gifts that give back

Niña Terol
Christmas gift ideas 2014: 13 gifts that give back
High-quality products and services that help the environment or local communities, without necessarily burning a hole in your pocket

With sustainability now becoming a buzzword, local brands and social enterprises are stepping up to offer consumers more choices for high-quality products and services that help the environment and local communities without hurting your wallet. Here are some tried-and-tested, well-loved picks that appeal to the inner do-gooder in you and your gift recipients.

1. Bamboo Sound Amplifier by Loudbasstard

Photo from

It looks deceptively simple, but great care, thoughtful design, and expert craftsmanship goes into every Loudbasstard amplifier.

According to its website, “The beauty of the product relies on the craftsmanship of Cebuano artisans and the hand tools they use. Each product is organically treated and cured to withstand different climates. Water-based colorants are used as finishing to retain the natural quality of the wood ensuring that each product is unique from the other.” Products are made of bamboo and rattan, two fast-growing plants that are eco-friendly and sustainable. 

  • Available colors: Natural, Bordeaux, Charcoal, Crimson, Emerald, Teak, Teal, and Whitewashed
  • Available at: Common Thread, iSwitch, and Nothing but H2O in Manila; iStore in Cebu and Design Cebu at the Mactan International Airport. Click here for more locations. Online shopping is also available here
  • Price: P1,190

2. Pure Basics soft shirts for children 

Photo courtesy of Pure Basics

Beautiful, soft, fuss-free products made with the best intentions, products from Pure Basics come in basic colors and are made with organic cotton and organic bamboo fibers, making the products breathable and easy to wear.

3. Messy Baby products from Messy Bessy

Photo courtesy of Messy Bessy

If you’re familiar with Messy Bessy’s line of eco-friendly home, bath, and cleaning products, you’ll be happy to know that Messy Baby is now available to extend that same earth-loving care to children everywhere.

The Messy Baby product line includes a head to toe wash, bug repellent cologne, hand sanitizer, a baby dish and bottle cleaner, liquid laundry detergent, and toy and surface cleaner. All products are made with non-toxic, “100% food-safe” ingredients.

  • Available at: Ground Level, Glorietta 1, Ayala Center, Makati City; ECHOstore branches, and online here 
  • Price range: P90 to P220

4. Wine Hat (wine server) by Sustainably Made

Photo from

Another cleverly designed product by SustainablyMade, the Wine Hat is made to hold two wine glasses and a wine bottle without the clutter. It’s great as a table centerpiece, or for serving wine in style and impressing one’s date or dinner guests.

5. Spa in a Bottle by ECHOstore

Photo courtesy of echostore

ECHOstore’s best-selling Spa in a Bottle is, quite literally, a great, quick alternative to a massage or a spa session. Spray a small amount of liquid onto your palms, rub to spread over your hands, cup over your nose, and inhale deeply for a few moments of relaxation. Use this to take a quick breather in the middle of a hectic workday or whenever you need relief from congestion, stress, nausea, or dizziness. Some frequent fliers even say that it helps ease jet lag.

  • Available at: ECHOstore branches or online at the ECHOstore website 
  • Price: P129  

6. Washable cloth diapers from Bamboo Dappy 

Photo from

From every order, P10 goes into the monthly WWF donation that Bamboo Dappy owners make. These washable cloth diapers are made of bamboo fabric, which are more comfortable to wear and won’t chafe. They come in very cute designs – even a swim edition – and you can get a starter kit for a new mommy to try.  

7. Phone and gadget stands by SustainablyMade 

Photo courtesy of Sustainably Made

Sleek and stylish alternatives to those plastic stands, the phone and gadget stands offered by SustainablyMade are hand-crafted from “sustainably-farmed, premium” Honduras Mahogany hardwood, and “finished only with tung oul and beeswax.”

8. Scarves, ties, and accessories by ANTHILL Fabric Gallery

Photos courtesy of ANTHILL Fabric Gallery

Indigenous fabrics and patterns have been making a steady comeback, thanks to social enterprises such as ANTHILL Fabric Gallery.

According to ANTHILL founder Anya Lim, the brand “works to support and establish community weaving enterprises to promote and preserve homegrown skills, living traditions, and enable the appreciation and transmission of Filipino weaving culture to younger generations.” This holiday season’s featured patterns are Tiniri, Binakol, and Kantarines.

  • Available at: Anthill Fabric Gallery, Pedro Callomarde Street corner Acacia Street, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City; also available at selected bazaars, and online orders are accepted through Facebook
  • Price range: P550 for adults’ bowties, P799 for neckties, and P999 for “infinity scarves”

9. Wallets, purses, and bags by Rags2Riches (R2R)

Photos from

A multi-award-winning social enterprise that first entered the scene in 2007 through a collaboration with Filipino fashion icon Rajo Laurel, R2R has since embarked on numerous collaborations with the likes of Amina Aranáz, Oliver Tolentino, Olivia d’Aboville, and Liz Uy.

It transforms scraps of cloth and foot rugs into upscale bags and accessories, and also mixes in indigenous materials for truly unique and “eco-ethical” fashion statements that also uplift the lives of poor communities around Metro Manila.

  • Available at: R2R’s space at Anthology, Rockwell Power Plant; trunk shows and bazaars; and online through or
  • Price range: P359 upwards for wallets, P659.00 upwards for clutches, and P1,339.00 upwards for bags. International products sell for US $128.00 upwards


10. iPad covers and laptop sleeves by Jacinto & Lirio


Photo courtesy of Jacinto & Lirio

Taken from the Spanish words for “hyacinth and lily,” Jacinto & Lirio is an award-winning social enterprise brand that transforms the water hyacinth from an “invasive species that clogs up waterways and creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes” into fashion statements that fuse form and function.

Products are made of water hyacinth and leatherette, and are all locally handcrafted. The iPad covers can fit first- to fourth-generation iPads and also come with a pen holder and a notebook holder.

  • Available colors: Black and burgundy
  • Available at: National Bookstore, Powerbooks, FullyBooked, and Scribe Writing Essentials branches; click here for other locations
  • Price range: P1,299 to P1,599

11.  Bamboo glasses by Straightforward

Photo courtesy of Straightforward Philippines

Another sleek, cool product made of bamboo, Straightforward’s bamboo glasses, according to shopping site, “are handcrafted from Weaves Bamboo (Gacilis).” Each pair comes with 1.1-mm TAC Polarized Gray Lenses, UV 400 protection, flex hinge, a bamboo hard case, and a black microfiber carrying bag.  

  • Available in: Natural, Black, Brown, Burgundy, Green (colors); round and “soft square” (shape)
  • Available at:
  • Price: P2,500 

12.  Agritours, cooking classes, and fresh produce at Lotus Pod  

Aside from fresh veggies, you can also buy fresh herbs from Lotus Pod, and give them away as gifts. Photo by Niña Terol

Get to the heart of sustainability and learn more about organic farming, at a location that’s perfect for a day trip, a prenup shoot, or even an intimate event or wedding. Lotus Pod offers agritours that aim to teach visitors how to make their own versions of organic gardens.
The Lotus Pod agritour runs from 9am to 3pm, and includes a lecture on organic farming, plant tissue culture, hydroponics, vermin-composting, and fertilizer-making; lunch and snacks; transportation between Makati and Laguna; welcome drinks and water; and a hat and basket that you’ll use when you “harvest your own veggies.” Customized tours may be arranged, but all tours must have only 10 to 15 people per group.

  • Available at: Lotus Pod in Bay, Laguna. Visit the Lotus Pod website or email for details
  • Price range: P3,000.00 per person

13.  Compassion bag by Taclob

Photo courtesy of Taclob

Arising from the destruction wrought by super-typhoon Yolanda, Taclob is a social enterprise that was created to generate livelihood for craftsmen and artisans in Tacloban while providing for the needs of schoolchildren in the area. The Compassion backpack is a weather-resistant bag made of “pre-loved denim jeans,” military-grade nylon thread, and genuine leather lash tabs, produced by the same makers of Yadu and Khumbmela.
According to the Taclob website, “The large interior pocket is able to fit a 13″ MacBook or a standard size folder, while the jean pockets provide storage for all the things you would normally have to keep in your pockets.” Each purchase of a Compassion backpack provides another backpack to a child in need.


Background image for thumbnail via Shutterstock


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